Rudy Giuliani

Questions for Candidates

It’s beginning to look a lot like election season. Exploratory papers are being filed. Funds are being raised. Campaign buses are rolling through early primary states. Debates are being had.

I hate how early presidential campaigns get kicked off nowadays. In a culture where information travels so fast, I would think we need less time for campaigning, not more. But, sadly, that’s not the way it works.

I doubt I’ll be voting for President Obama. I didn’t in 2008, and he hasn’t really done anything to convince me to change my mind. I have a great deal of respect for the President, but I simply have too many policy differences with him to be able to support his reelection.

So, I’ve begun to pay attention to the crop of Republican hopefuls. About the only Republican out there who excites me is Gov. Chris Christie of NJ, but he has said repeatedly that he is not running in 2012. Without him or former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (yet?) in the race, I feel like I am very far from picking a candidate. I guess it’s a good thing that votes won’t start being cast for a year.

I did catch most of the Republican presidential debate that CNN hosted this week. And it left me with some questions. Here are my questions about the candidates, announced and yet-to-be announced, that will need to get answered before I can vote for one of these men or women:

Michele Bachmann
Congresswoman Bachmann strikes me as obviously intelligent and accomplished. She’ll get a bad rap from Democrats and the media for her Tea Party association, but isn’t she just the front-runner in the Veepstakes?

Herman Cain
Mr. Cain is interesting to listen to and has a great story, but I generally don’t think of him as any more electable than Papa John. How long will it be before the Alan Keyes comparisons begin?

Newt Gingrich
In 1989, I had a signed picture of Newt hanging on my wall. Keep your Alex P. Keaton jokes to yourselves. Newt was fresh and cool then. He is no longer fresh and cool. Can the Speaker come back from having a stepford wife, no advisors, and a man dump glitter on his head?

Rudy Giuliani
America’s Mayor totally blew his opportunity in 2008. He had a short-sighted Florida-only strategy and a myopic 9/11 message. If he jumps in again, can he demonstrate that he learned his lesson and be a viable, national candidate?

Jon Huntsman Jr.
I follow politics pretty closely. I’ve been known to recognize obscure legislators in shopping mall parking lots and airports. I know he was Utah’s governor and President Obama’s ambassador to China, but still, I’m asking, “Who?”

Sarah Palin
Palin has a way of connecting with people that the media can’t figure out and doesn’t respect, and so I’m skeptical of how she’s portrayed and often quite sympathetic toward her. Yet, I’m tired of her. Fatigue doesn’t usually set in until a President’s second term. How can she overcome Palin Fatigue when she hasn’t even been elected yet?

Ron Paul
Congressman Paul strikes me as the smartest person in the race. He’s principled and charismatic in an old man kind of way. But why can’t he attract more than 10% of primary voters?

Tim Pawlenty
I don’t know much about Governor Pawlenty, but I’d be willing to bet he’s the most effective and pragmatic leader of the bunch. Tell me, Governor, why shouldn’t I think of you as just another boring white guy in a blue suit?

Rick Perry
A Governor of Texas with a track record of reaching across the aisle and getting stuff done. What could go wrong there?

Mitt Romney
There are many of us who want Mitt Romney to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan, and we can’t figure out what he’s missing. What is he missing?

Rick Santorum
Senator Santorum appeals to the social conservatives, the Religious Right. I’m not part of the Religious Right, so why should I pay any attention to him?

There is plenty of time to get these questions answered. But the sooner I learn what I’m seeking about the candidates, the sooner I’ll be ready to throw my support behind one of them.

By the way, I didn’t make up that Newt-glitter thing:



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Concession

The bumper sticker is off the car.
The widget is off the blog.

Vanessa asked me last night what it would take for me to vote for McCain. I figured it out. He would have to ask me to be his running mate.

Rudy Wins New Hampshire

Do the Math
Rudy is New Hampshire’s real Republican winner.

By Patrick Basham, from National Review Online

No matter the order of finish in New Hampshire on Tuesday, the Republican primary’s real winner is former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

As John McCain surges ahead, Giuliani’s national numbers have fallen. Rudy’s decision to ignore both the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries guaranteed poor showings in these still-important first-in-the-nation contests, and as a result, Giuliani’s candidacy became something of an afterthought in media coverage. The Financial Times analyzed the Republican contenders and, in a final sentence, informed its readers that Rudy Giuliani is “also in contention.”

However, as the Republican race journeys down to South Carolina, and then on to Florida — prior to decisive Super Tuesday — Giuliani may be in the best overall shape of any Republican candidate. Giuliani’s advantage over his competitors in key facets of the nomination battle is increasingly overlooked; too little attention has been paid to his financial resources, organization, and electability.

The Giuliani campaign has made comparatively large investments in organization, candidate visits, and advertising in many of the big, early-voting states, including Florida, California, and Illinois. Consequently, beyond the headline poll numbers, Giuliani holds a far more competitive position across the spectrum of upcoming primary states than Huckabee, McCain, or Romney.

Aside from Giuliani, only the McCain campaign planned for a truly national, state-by-state race, but McCain no longer has the funds to afford one. Romney chose to put all his chips on knockout victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, unaware that his candidacy would be the one administered smelling salts.

Of course, Romney could self-finance the rest of his campaign. After New Hampshire, however, he may have no other means of keeping a campaign on political life-support afloat.

An impressive New Hampshire showing will infuse the McCain campaign with enough new dollars and free media to soldier on to Michigan and South Carolina — but not much farther — unless McCain can pull off an upset in one of those states.

Huckabee’s religious populism has the potential to gain support as the race heads south. However, his campaign doesn’t possess the organizational muscle to rack up convention delegates beyond a comparatively small number of targeted states.

Hence, Huckabee’s disproportionate strength among evangelicals suggests he may do well in South Carolina, but it’s hard to see how he beats Giuliani in delegate-rich California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. Although Giuliani isn’t as strong as he was across all Super Tuesday states, he still leads in a majority of these states.

An interesting dynamic played out during the past several weeks. While Huckabee, McCain, and Romney engaged in a three-way street brawl replete with expensive, negative attack-ads, Giuliani stood on the sidelines holding his competitors coats. When did anyone last run an anti-Giuliani ad? Long perceived as the short-tempered tough-guy of the Republican race, Giuliani’s image was softened (and improved) by default, and at no cost to his campaign.

Critically, only Giuliani has both the money and the organization available to maintain front-runner status in all the important states. If Giuliani wins Florida, where he currently leads, on the eve of Super Tuesday he will (once again) become the prohibitive favorite for his party’s nomination.

Beyond securing the nomination, only one other Republican, John McCain, can challenge Giuliani on electability grounds. Unlike Huckabee and Romney, Giuliani and McCain are competitive in general election trial-heats against the leading Democratic contenders, though they do not currently poll as well against Senator Obama, as they do against Senator Clinton.

Without question, the Giuliani campaign’s unconventional “big state” strategy is a high-risk one. After New Hampshire, it’s also the most likely to capture a majority of the 2,345 convention delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination.

—Patrick Basham directs the Washington-based Democracy Institute and is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

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